Liz Phair – Whip-Smart

ARTIST: Liz Phair 220px-Liz_Phair_-_Whip-Smart

TITLE:  Whip-Smart



SINGLES: Supernova (#78, #6 Modern Rock), Whip-Smart (#24 Modern Rock), Jealousy (feature track on an EP, Juvenilia, which hit #78 on the album chart)


LINEUP: Liz Phair, Brad Wood, Casey Rice

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The follow-up to her cult classic debut has her best known song, but is uneven.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Phair had an almost impossible task of following up her landmark Exile in Guyville, Her new-found fame also got in the way with her writing and recording process, so much so that they moved the sessions to the Bahamas to get away from Chicago.

What resulted was an album with some brilliant moments, especially “Supernova” and “May Queen”. The album as a whole, though, didn’t unify. There was a theme, supposedly, but it didn’t cohere. It’s an album of individual songs – some great, some not so great. The production adds to this, as in the middle of the record many of the songs sound similar in tone and arrangement.

Another reason for the unevenness is that about 1/3 of the songs dated from her “Girly Sound” cassettes, with some updates. Still, it’s worth picking up as there’s a lot of good stuff here, despite the mediocre nature of some tracks.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Jealousy” was promoted with an EP containing some of the “Girly Sound” tapes, but with no other label support from Atlantic (who had a deal with Matador, her old independent company) she was reluctant to go on tour, as she was feeling uneasy with fame and the touring lifestyle. They responded by threatening to drop her contract, but Phair stood firm.


GRADE: B: “Supernova” is worth the price of admission, and some of the tracks are pretty good. The mediocre tracks would be better served if they weren’t clustered together.


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